From Dr Krzysztof Rybinski.
Sir, Imagine that there is a wild party, a long one. Every time the alcohol supply dries up, the central bank shows up and keeps the party going and going, and people get more and more addicted to partying and drinking. At some stage, the drunken crowd demolishes the premises and the party is over.
Hank and Ben show up and ask who did the most damage. John, people say, broke four windows and smashed the table. Great, says Hank, John will get $300 - who is next on the did-most-damage list? Tim, the crowd cries, he sprayed paint all over the place and burned the sofa. Excellent, says Hank, Tim will get $250. Who is next?
In a few days, the next party will begin. People are planning to show up in large numbers. Not only can they have a lot of fun (while others - obviously jerks and dorks - will go to work every morning) and drink for free - they will also get free cash handouts when the party is over. How do you like the Paulson plan?
Former Deputy Governor,
National Bank of Poland,
Friday, 7 November 2008
This year's event promises to be the greatest celebration of success in international media that we've ever organised. The event is fully subscribed, and there's a waiting list for seats! 210 people from every part of the world will be joining us for the Awards which will be presented by France 24's Mark Owen.
I'm looking forward to it greatly - although the strain is now starting to show at AIB HQ where everyone is distinctly frazzled. But the effort is worth it, as we see surprised faces on many of the award winners' faces next Wednesday.
I'll update this blog with news from the evening, and make sure that the photos are available for all to see.
Wednesday, 1 October 2008
Monday, 29 September 2008
This year's AIB Awards have taken everyone involved by surprise. With more than three times received this year than the number of entries submitted in 2007, it seems that these Awards have truly captured the imagination of broadcasters, online producers and technologists the world over.
The shortlisting process turned into a mammoth task (we'd expected perhaps 30 or 40 more entries than last year), but because we wanted to be scrupulously fair to all entrants, our shortlisting team has watched every TV programme submitted, listened to every radio entry, tested every cross-media production, and thought long and hard about the marketing and technology entries. This work has brought us to a shortlist of around 24% of the total entries, and we've posted this online at www.aib.org.uk.
Now it's up to our judges who are spread around the world, from the US to Australia, Ghana to South Africa, Germany to Denmark, and many other places in between. We'll be keeping the results absolutely secret until we present the Awards on 12 November.
So the reason for calling this a shameless plug? Because I want to encourage you to book your seats at the 2008 AIB Awards taking place in London on 12 November. It's going to be a truly great evening, celebrating success in international media and offering many unexpected insights into the way global media is developing. You can book online at www.aib.org.uk - but be quick: when I checked this afternoon, one third of the places had already been reserved!
Friday, 19 September 2008
Last night I thought I'd catch up with one of the episodes of 'Britain from Above' on the BBC HD channel that I'd missed because I'd been away. I duly tuned in and started to watch.
But something wasn't quite right. The DOG (digital on-screen graphic) with the BBC HD logo wasn't alone. The BBC HD Preview logo was still being radiated, meaning that there was a ghostly shadow and a redundant "Preview" on the top left of the screen.
I picked up the phone and rang Red Bee Media's Duty Engineer (Red Bee Media handles the playout of the BBC's TV channels, and many others in the UK) and let him know about the problem. Within a couple of minutes the errant Preview DOG disappeared.
What's curious to me is that it seems nobody within the BBC is monitoring its output...in years gone by, the Presentation Department at Television Centre made sure that programmes were being transmitted as they should. Today, there seems to be a general abdication of responsibility for output in the multi-channel world and it's up to sharp-eyed viewers to alert broadcasters when things are going wrong.
Thursday, 18 September 2008
After a fairly rigorous set of tests, we settled on Spamfighter, a collaborative programme that makes use of the wisdom of the crowd - the Spamfighter community - to identify and remove spam from users' computers. It's a simple application that you can download and will remove spam from every e-mail account that you have on a PC. If one slips through the net, you simply press "Block" on the e-mail program and the spam item is moved to the Spamfighter folder, and the Spamfighter central database is updated. It seems to work incredibly effectively.
In fact, I took a look at the Spamfighter statistics today. Since we applied the "paid for" version of the program in July, the system has filtered well over 40,000 spam e-mails. Yes, 40,000+. That's the scale of the problem this small but international organisation faces. Horrific.
Then I realised that the spam problem was transferring itself to my newly-acquired Blackberry. I'd resisted getting one of these devices for a long time, thinking that it was simpler to deal with e-mails in the office, but the trouble when you travel quite a bit is there's a constant backlog that slows down your return. So I got a Blackberry before going on holiday in July. Trouble was, using the Blackberry Desktop Redirector every item of mail arriving was automatically forwarded as the Redirector worked instantly, before Spamfighter could kick in.
I searched high and low for a solution and today have found it. Thanks to a post on www.slivka.com (dating back to 2004) I found a registry edit that allows you to put in a delay on the Redirector. Despite not liking tampering with the registry, I duly followed the instructions and, hey presto, the Redirector is delayed by 30 seconds giving Spamfighter ample time to work. So, no more spam on the Blackberry. Great.
Here's the registry edit instructions to save you looking:
Step 1. Go to Start > Run and type "regedit" and click OK.
Step 2. Go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER > Software >Research In Motion > BlackBerry > Redirector. Change the value of the ProcessMailDelay entry to 30. If this value fails to address the issue, then modify the value to be 60.
Note: If the ProcessMailDelay value is not present, create it as a DWORD Value and set the Value data to Decimal 30.
Step 3. close the Redirector and Desktop Manager applications, then restart both to force these changes to take effect.
Tuesday, 2 September 2008
The first day of the Medienwoche conference demonstrated that the conflicts between public and private media rumble on, with private media companies complaining loudly that publicly-funded broadcasters are moving into new territories for which they don't have a mandate, pushing private enterprise to the sidelines.
Today (Tuesday) Mark Thompson, BBC Director-General, is talking about the role of public service broadcasting.
Meanwhile, across the road at IFA, the European consumer electronics fair, it's very quiet - the quietest I've ever seen it since I first came to the show in the 1980s. My initial impressions are that there's a lack of anything new and exciting - but if you want to see hall after hall of plasma and LCD HD-ready TV sets, then IFA is definitely the place to come. And there are washing machines, too...
Tuesday, 26 August 2008
The event has been running for 30-plus years, and brings together many of the top names in UK television - both channels and production houses - for three days of debate and networking. This year was, apparently, a record one for the number of delegates, and there were international attendees from Scandinvia, Germany, Qatar and North America. But the debate was very UK-centric, with only a couple of sessions that looked outside the UK's TV industry.
I was impressed by Clay Shirky of NYU who talked about the future of TV and convergence, sharing ideas and helping to start conversations. Wadah Khanfar, DG of Al Jazeera Network, gave his views on international news. But those were really the only sessions that looked at the rest of the world. Perhaps next year there will be more of an international flavour and sharing of ideas across borders. The AIB's ready to help with this.
Monday, 18 August 2008
Drop by and pay us a visit if you're coming to IBC this year. We'd love to have a chat and share ideas and learn about the challenges facing you in the rapidly-changing media industry. We'll also share with you the AIB Hotspots @ IBC...find out more in Amsterdam.
Thursday, 26 June 2008
Well, they are one morning's arrivals in the AIB Awards office in the UK - packages of broadcasts submitted to the Awards from organisations throughout the world.
It's great to see so many companies sending in their work - from Taiwan to Germany, Sweden to the UAE, the US to Australia.
There's still time to enter - the deadline is now 18 July. See what the AIB is looking for at www.aibawards.com.
Meanwhile, AIB Executive Officer Alison Seary has to start opening and cataloguing this lot. And tomorrow's. And Mondays...
Friday, 20 June 2008
In fact, no one was drunk but everyone played at being sailors.
Yesterday (Thursday 19th June) I was privileged to be part of the first VT Communications Sailing Challenge. VT Communications (which provides transmission and distribution services for the BBC World Service and an increasing number of broadcasters worldwide) hosted a day of sailing and racing in the Solent - the piece of water off the southern coast of England that separates the Isle of Wight from the mainland.
The party was divided into two groups - team Victor and team Tango (teams VT, geddit?) and after breakfast at the foot of the Spinnaker Tower that dominates the Portsmouth skyline (and in which you can test your vertigo thanks to a glass floor 100m above the ground) we went off to our boats for a safety briefing and a bit of explanation about the way winches, sheets, and all the other bits and pieces of a modern sailing boat, work.
We set off, getting our sails hoisted and tacked over to Cowes on the Isle of Wight where we had a rather tasty (and well-earned) lunch. Then the important bit of the day got underway - a race back to Portsmouth with the two teams pitted against one another as the wind got up.
At first, team Tango - with VT Communications MD Doug Umbers on board (pictured) - stole a lead, at one point almost three boat lengths (and the boats were nearly 70' long). But with some excellent helming by Ruxandra Obreja of the BBC, ably assisted by Josh Sparks of VT, team Victor edged forward (disclosure - I was on the team Victor boat!). At the finishing line, team Victor was ahead by less than half a boat length - and won!
Pure exhilaration all round, and well done to everyone on that boat, comiserations to those on Tango. I helmed it back into Portsmouth, managing to cut through the waves and soak Doug Umbers, Director of Broadcast at VTC - sorry, Doug. Medals all round back at the port, rounding off a truly great day. Thanks to everyone at VTC.
Wednesday, 18 June 2008
All this means that we're going to have a remarkable contest this year with more entries than ever before. We've been asked by some entrants if we can extend the deadline for submissions, and we're responded by moving the closing date from 30 June to 19 July 2008. We hope this helps!
It's also encouraging that there's still excellent feedback coming in from last year's Awards and the gala evening we ran at Clothworkers' Hall in the City of London to present the prizes. Nigel Chapman, Director of BBC World Service, said to me on Monday evening that he's keen to attend this year as he'd heard really good things about the event and wanted to see for himself. That's great - so why not enter today? See www.aibawards.com.
What was special was the fact that this sculpture, Breathing, was being dedicated to the scores of journalists and news support staff who have lost their lives in reporting the news to the world. The event, co-hosted by the BBC and the International News Safety Institute, brought together senior executives from the BBC and other news gathering organisations, such as UK's ITN (represented by David Mannion and Deborah Turness), as well as people who have suffered at the hands of men of violence, such as Alan Johnston, Frank Gardner, Terry Waite and Brian Keenan. I spoke briefly with Frank who last year, as an old boy, addressed Founders Day at my son's school, St Ronan's in Kent. Despite horrific injuries, he still works long hours as the BBC's security correspondent and on Monday had been reporting the heightened terrorist threat in the UAE.
The guest of honour was Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, who unveiled the sculpture at 2145 BST, sending a beam of light high up into the night sky above London. He spoke of the need to ensure journalists and others working in news gathering are afforded protection as they strive to bring the truth to people throughout the world. The UN has become heavily involved in the issue of news safety in the world of journalism and the organisation is to be congratulated for supporting the work of INSI and journalists worldwide.
Then John Simpson, the BBC's World Affairs editor movingly read the poem by war correspondent James Fenton whose words are inscribed on the sculpture:
We spoke, we chose to speak of war and strife –
a task a fine ambition sought –
and some might say, who shared our work, our life:
that praise was dearly bought.
Drivers, interpreters, these were our friends.
These we loved. These we were trusted by.
The shocked hand wipes the blood across the lens.
The lens looks to the sky.
Most died by mischance. Some seemed honour-bound
to take the lonely, peerless track
conceiving danger as a testing ground
to which they must go back
till the tongue fell silent and they crossed
beyond the realm of time and fear.
Death waved them through the checkpoint. They were lost. All have their story here.
It was a moving, and humbling, occasion and I was honoured to be there.
Monday, 16 June 2008
It's going to be a busy week. In the office, we're working on the latest edition of The Channel, the AIB's print magazine. We're also ringing round producers, editors, journalists and PR people, reminding them about this year's AIB Awards. With only a few weeks until the Awards close, we're getting enquiries from all over the world - on Friday, calls came in from Argentina, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and the USA, demonstrating the global nature of the AIB Media Excellence Awards.
This week also has a good deal of socialising and networking. Tonight (Monday) it's off the Broadcasting House in central London for the unveiling of Breathing, a light sculpture. On Wednesday, it's the All Party Parliamentary Group Summer Reception at Channel 4's London HQ and on Thursday VT Communications have kindly invited me to a day's sailing on the south coast of England.
So it's back to work...
Friday, 13 June 2008
This isn't the first time GEO has suffered in Dubai. During the state of emergency imposed late last year, GEO was told to stop broadcasting from the UAE. At the time GEO said that it would relocate its international operations to Hong Kong if the UAE government continued to hassle it. I suspect the move may come sooner than later.
My concern is that many international broadcasters are moving all or part of their production facilities to other countries - the BBC World Service is moving many of its Hindi- and Urdu-language staff to India and Pakistan, for example - and this means that pressure can be exerted locally to force "unwelcome" programming to be dropped. Responding to a letter in this week's edition of Ariel, the BBC staff newspaper, Behrouz Afagh, head of the World Service Asia-Pacific region, said: "As for the BBC partnership in Pakistan, our editorial independence and integrity is not and was never under any threat, and our FM bulletins are going out live now, in any case." He's confident there's no problem. Perhaps this latest news from Dubai will cause a reassessment of the situation.
Last night (12 June) I was delighted to be at the headquarters of the Financial Times in London for the first of the FT's TMT Executive Forum dinners. During a champagne reception, Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson, the FT's Media Editor, interviewed Antti Öhrling, co-founder of Blyk. Blyk is an advertising-funded mobile network that targets 16-25 year olds, offering free or discounted mobile calls in return for targeted, relevant advertising being received by the subscriber. It's already up and running in the UK, where around 150,000 people have signed up for the service. Now the company is heading into the Netherlands, and then into other European territories. Antti is a man with a mission, and he's able to explain his company's offer in a thoroughly engaging and entertaining way. I think that Blyk is a company to watch.
Then it was into dinner in the board room overlooking the River Thames, watching the sun set across London (a glorious evening after a day of highly changeable weather), with good food and great company. Among those I met were Mukul Gupta of Infosys, John Higgins, D-G of the UK tech trade association, Intellect, Giuuseppe Cardamone of online advertising company Monster, and Shoba Purushothaman, co-founder of The News Market.
A great evening, and well done to the FT.
Monday, 9 June 2008
Is this good or bad? For radio listeners who, whatever their age, find change disturbing when it comes to their favourite radio station, it could be bad news. For the rest - including the new owners who run fast-developing radio businesses in India - it could be good.
You can read more about the changes taking place in three blogs:
http://james.cridland.net/blog/2008/06/01/farewell-virgin-radio/ (from ex-Virgin employee James Cridland);
http://talktotimlradio.co.uk/ (from the new owners of Virgin Radio)
and here: http://www.adambowie.com/weblog/archive/002444.html (from a current Virgin staffer).
The AIB's latest member-only market intelligence briefing looks at this development in more detail, as well as providing background information on an Indian media start-up that's looking for involvement from Western broadcasters.
Friday, 6 June 2008
I was delighted to be at the London event where senior media executives from Euronews and other broadcasting organisations received the first glimpses of the "pure" new look and saw the first news bulletin at 1830GMT to use the new graphics.
The following day, BBC World News held a press briefing to announce its key achievements of the past year and to unveil its new tri-media strategy. Yet somehow the BBC forgot to invite key journalists from the specialist and trade media who report on stories to the world (including the AIB and a range of colleagues whose online publications reach tens of thousands of readers worldwide), concentrating instead, it seems, on UK-focused journalists. I'm surprised by this approach at a time when the channel claims to have seen an international growth in its audience and increased ad sales revenues. Maybe it was just an oversight...
Friday, 30 May 2008
So, bear with me...I'll put more effort into adding entries to this in the coming weeks.
For now, back to the piles on my desk!
Thursday, 15 May 2008
On the face of it, you might think there are quite a lot of award ceremonies out there already. Some of them have become somewhat predictable. But that’s because they are award ceremonies that have become national television shows. Producers in the wings are more interested in what people on stage look like, and policing prize winners to say no more than 10 seconds of “thank you’s”.
We’ve also seen some awards turn into a gong factory, by having hundreds of categories, to the point where there seems to be a prize for the most creative use of punctuation. The law of averages means that if you win nothing, the programme must have been really awful.
And yet there seems to be no-one, apart from the AIB, taking a serious interest in the profession of international broadcasting, where people are trying to share ideas across borders. This is very easy to do badly. It is actually extremely difficult to do well. And in these uncertain times, there’s a chance of being misunderstood or having a message taken out of context.
In my travels as AIB CEO, I have been inspired by people who have that talent to communicate cross border and cross culturally. They are often the unsung heroes in organisations, partly because what they do is not consumed locally. They don’t get the sort of family feedback enjoyed by people working in national radio and TV stations.
Yet the world would be a much poorer place without their daily contributions to society. I believe the AIB Awards have created the right atmosphere to celebrate real success and shine the spotlight in places currently in the shade.
Interested in taking part yourself? Check out http://www.aibawards.com/
Wednesday, 14 May 2008
Meanwhile, Sue Phillips, the London bureau chief, has been promoted to head up all AJE's international bureaux which currently number just under 70 worldwide, making Al Jazeera one of the world's largest TV newsgathering organisations. Sue will be bringing the Arabic and English bureaux together to cover news stories more effectively, while maintaining the distinct editorial agendas that the two TV news channels have.
Sunday, 4 May 2008
A good range of AIB members are here: Russia Today TV, Al Hurra, EuroNews, DW-TV, France 24 - all planning to meet local media executives in the Middle East and to discuss issues facing electronic media in the region.
It's a great time for media in the region. Here in Abu Dhabi, a new newspaper has been launched. The National is really breaking the mould as it's the first paper in the UAE not to carry a front page picture of one of the ruling family. Abu Dhabi is also building a media city that could attract media houses from neighbouring Dubai. Interesting time.
Friday, 22 February 2008
My impressions: lots of people making lots of money from the mobile industry; a confidence that they're getting it right; a move towards content being made available on mobile devices, with devices equipped with DVB-H rolling out.
So where does the media fit in all this? It's up to content owners to start courting the mobile operators and handset manufacturers to ensure that their material is available to handset users in markets all over the world. And then it's a question of mobile operators pricing access to the content at sensible, affordable prices to avoid "bill shock".
I was quoted in all three papers as saying that no-one listens to shortwave in the developed world anymore and of course that's set off alarm bells left, right and centre among those who do! Perhaps I should have been a little less forthright and suggested that "most people in the developed world no longer listen to shortwave".
I know that there are people who still listen on shortwave - I fire up a set every now and again to see what's on - but I'm afraid that they are most definitely in the minority. If you ask 50 people walking on a street in central London, Budapest, Paris, Warsaw, Berlin, Toronto, Rome, New York or Los Angeles if they listen to shortwave radio, you'll be extraordinarily lucky to find one who answers yes.
So what does this mean? Broadcasters who target international audiences have to look at the way in which people consume media in their homes and on the move and make sure that the way in which they reach those audiences actually makes sense. It's absolutely no good spending tens of thousands of dollars in using a transmission system that only a handful of people use to access content. It's much more sensible to spend the money on delivering programmes on the same platforms that people use to listen to local content - which is what, inevitably, they will consume most of. So if it's FM, then you need to find local FM partners or apply for an FM licence. If it's medium wave (AM) then find medium wave outlets that reach your target. If it's listening to radio via television, get on that platform. It's simple common sense.
It's a shame that a delivery method that has given access to content is coming to the end of its life, but the very fact that I'm writing this blog and you're reading it means that times have changed. People are using the web to access content - look at YouTube as just one example - and they have FM radios in the mobile phones.
If international radio broadcasting is to survive, it needs to make sure it's reaching people. End of story.
Saturday, 19 January 2008
The train was on time in London, the Bakerloo line worked and I caught a Heathrow Express train with no problems. It pulled into Heathrow at 1555 and I was through to the BA lounge in less than 17 minutes - including all security checks and the purchase of an(other) emergency set of cufflinks in Thomas Pink. There was even time to have a joke with the extremely friendly sales staff in the shirt retailer - top marks to them both.
Now sitting here wondering why every trip is not like this - hassle free at the airport. So it's time for a drink or two. Cheers.
Friday, 18 January 2008
Colleague Jonathan Marks will be in Munich too, and together we'll be capturing the thoughts of some of the participants in high definition for AIB members to view online.
I'll be reporting on the discussions to AIB members next week in our market intelligence briefing, sharing some of the ideas that will be discussed and shared in Munich. I'll also bring some of the event to this blog during the first part of next week.
Mostly, however, we find it works well. It's great being surrounded by countryside (although we could do without some of the mud at the moment) and it's nice to see pheasants strolling outside the office window.
And we've got some great local support services. This week, part of the AIB office IT network stopped working. There was no reason we could find and the level of frustration that built up as several people tried to solve the problem was quite considerable.
So we picked up the phone to Kent IT, a firm whose head office is at the Maidstone Studios with a branch just up the road from the AIB offices. We called them at 1630 on Thursday afternoon and explained the problem (which mystified the engineers we spoke to) but they arranged to have one of their engineers visit on Friday. Sure enough, at 0835 he arrived and within an hour had identified, rectified and checked the problem. We now are fully operational again.
Congratulations and thanks to Kent IT who provide a first-class service at extremely reasonable prices!
Monday, 14 January 2008
Friday, 11 January 2008
At lunchtime yesterday I thought I'd been successful using the ebookers online system. But it didn't like me for some reason and refused to take my booking.
I gave it another go at just before 5.00pm - the same thing happened. I spotted that there's a phone number to call, so I rang and after the five or six button presses I got through to a travel agent in India.
I explained what had happened and she said "it's always better to ring and speak to someone". I was rather surprised as I thought online travel agents worked, well, online. Anyway, she went through the booking and I gave my credit card details. She read back the flight information and I said "hang on a tick - that's the wrong flight back". She'd managed to get me on a far earlier flight than I wanted, so she had to try and change this (which involved talking to a supervisor and making me hold on longer). By this time, I'd been on the phone for 26 minutes. She came back and told me it was now all right - but then couldn't get her system to finalise the booking, just as I hadn't.
I was pretty frustrated by now, particularly as I had to go and collect my son from school and was now late. So I told the agent to cancel it all.
Later that evening, I went onto lastminute.com and booked what I wanted and got confirmation within about 2'30".
Moral - stick with the people you know!
I hope that some of what I write will be of interest, although undoubtedly as I put font to screen there will be things that don't make it into the "top ten" blogs of the day.
So, as I gaze out of the window on a thoroughly miserable Friday with the rain gushing down outside, I wish you well for the year and look forward to sharing some of the highlights of the coming months with you.